|This is a smiley face the deicing crew at the Pittsburgh International Airport made in the snow. As seen through the deicing fluid on the window of my plane on the evening of 29 December 2012.|
This year has been a year of many changes for me. My days as a postdoc have come to an end and I now hold a dual position with Caltech as a scientist at the LIGO Livingston Observatory and as a physics instructor at LSU. It is great being back in the classroom but that is also something that has kept me from posting as much as I would like. It takes a lot of time to create interesting lectures for a class of 150 students and handle all of the class administration myself (office hours, grading, etc.). This semester I am teaching the second semester of physical science (astronomy, chemistry, earth science) and will only have a 30 students. I am very excited about the more personal instruction I will be able to do!
There have also been many changes at LIGO. When I first started working at the Livingston observatory in 2007, there were about 25-30 people who worked there on a daily basis. Starting with the Advanced LIGO preparations in 2010, we nearly doubled the number of daily staff. Since the installation is well underway, we no longer need to have so many people on site (having too many people on site while we are looking for gravitational waves will cause ground vibrations that will decrease our sensitivity). The parking lots are noticeably less full and it is starting to feel a little lonely even though we still have more people working on site than when I started.
As far as my personal life is concerned, I'm glad that 2012 is over. It has been full of drama and uncertainty and it is one of the things that have been getting in the way of keeping up with this blog and my career in general. But I wouldn't change a moment of it since I have so many great people around me, at home and at work, who care for me.
This coming year will prove to be exciting! The installation of Advanced LIGO should be completed and the first commissioning (use of the detector to fine tune it to its best sensitivity) started. This is always an interesting time when you get to use the detector for the first time and solve novel problems. I will be sure to tell you all about them here!
I will also continue teaching at LSU. As I mentioned above, I will be teaching the second semester of physical science with about 30 students. I also expect to teach a masters degree class on inquiry learning for in-service teachers this summer (I've done this class twice before with LSU).
Of course, the most exciting events are usually the unexpected. I look forward to sharing the professional and personal excitement with you here.
Thank you to all of my readers, followers on Twitter, and those who found me through a search engine! Keep coming back for more!
What are you looking forward to this year?